The Brick House has always grown and changed along with our changing local community. This fall, we have been challenged by a staff member to examine the ways that some of the practices we have developed may be out of line with our core values.
There are more youth of color, and families of color, than there used to be among the communities we serve. We more often find ourselves hiring staff of color into entry-level, “direct service” roles, especially as youth workers, but this demographic shift has not yet been reflected in our small organization’s leadership.
While we understand this is not terribly uncommon for non-profit agencies, we’re coming to recognize that it creates the conditions for dynamics of racial inequity and injustice to develop within an organization. The Brick House assures equal opportunity for employment, and equal access to services, without discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age. But we know this is not going to be enough.
This is an ongoing discussion, but at this point, we’ve committed to the following steps.
- In the long term, we intend to better reflect the constituencies we serve by bringing people of color into our organization’s leadership.
- We will develop a strategic plan for fair compensation that pushes back on perceived norms about how various forms of work, education, or experience should be valued. The plan will be intentionally anti-racist, and a central goal will be to increase pay for direct service workers.
- In the short term, we will improve our culture of recognition and appreciation to better value work done by staff who provide direct services, as well as program participants and community volunteers.
- We will make program budgets more transparent, work to ensure all staff understand how decisions are made in the organization, and make board meetings more accessible to staff participation.
- If it is the consensus of staff, the Brick House will adopt a wage transparency policy. Such a policy would allow our Executive Director, Business Manager, and Board to make the fiscal-year budgeting process more transparent, and involve more staff in planning. It would also put staff members in a better position to advocate for fair compensation.
- Upon a closer review of how her job responsibilities accumulated, and in recognition of her performance, we have retroactively adjusted the rate of pay of the staff member who initiated these conversations.
If you have experience in working through these issues in a small organization, or if your own organization is grappling with them, get in touch. And if you are able to donate to the Brick House this year, bear in mind that your donation will help us to bring up the pay rate of direct service staff, and in doing so, help us better embody the ideals of racial and economic justice we want to promote in the broader society. We would love you to join us in this work!
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